Temporary Orders: What are They and Why do We Need a Hearing?

Temporary Orders arise in several situations. In divorce cases, either you’ve recently filed for divorce or been served with a petition for divorce. In suits affecting the parent-child relationship, temporary orders can arise in the initial proceeding and in cases where you or your ex are seeking to modify the court’s final order because you’re seeking to get expanded visitation, change conservatorship, etc.

In order for temporary orders to be entered by a court, a party must first file a petition or motion for temporary orders and there must be a hearing. In family law, often this is the first hearing that the parties will attend in front of a judge and it might even be the last one if the final order is agreed upon and all that is necessary is a judge’s signature.

Temporary orders are an important stepping stone in family law cases because they serve several purposes while the case is actually pending such as specifying conservatorship, visitation with the children, ordering a party to make payments of child or spousal support as well as debts and interim attorney’s fees. The court can also order who has possession of what property while the case is pending and where the parties are to live. Also, the court can forecast what is to come in the case and set deadlines for the parties to meet. Often times, the final orders are contingent upon these deadlines.

Once you give notice or you are given notice of a temporary orders hearing, you’re probably wondering what process comes next. You call your attorneys at Guest & Gray, PC in Kaufman County and ask them to guide you through this.

First, your attorney will inform you that he/she will be present at the hearing with you and all the parties will appear. This is going to be a real hearing in which your attorney and opposing counsel will present witnesses and evidence to the court in order to support the petition/motion for temporary orders and essentially, to get what you want ordered while the case is pending. This is why it’s crucial to always tell your attorney any witness that you can think of and any issues that you believe might arise during the hearing. Also, you have to consider what is most important to you and what you want while the case is pending–do you want to make sure that you have your children on a specific date, are able to drive your car and not have that interfered with by your ex, can prevent your ex from draining the bank account, etc. This hearing, while formal, is normally a quick process and that’s why the attorney must be informed of all the key points beforehand so that they can be fully prepared.

At the temporary orders hearing, only the issues set forth in the motion/petition will be discussed. Meaning, just as the name insinuates, only things of a temporary nature can be brought up before the court. So, you can’t ask the judge what property you’re going to ultimately get out of the community estate or if you’re going to ultimately be repaid for certain debts you paid on your ex’s behalf during the marriage. All of that will be finalized at a later date.

Once a court has entered the temporary orders. the parties must abide by them until the time specified in the order. Usually it’s until the final order of the court is entered, but the court can set a different deadline if it so chooses. If you’re not completely satisfied with the temporary orders, your attorney can seek a modification on your behalf. Also, if you think of additional things that you want included, then your attorney can seek further temporary orders. This would arise if you find out that your ex is moving, having their boyfriend/girlfriend stay the night while the children are there, dating someone with a criminal history, etc. Basically, something has changed since the temporary orders hearing and you want to have the orders reflect this change.

If any party violates the temporary orders while the case is pending, you should contact your attorney at Guest & Gray immediately. This means that either the person is doing what they shouldn’t or they aren’t doing what they should. Your attorney can file a motion for contempt on your behalf and it will be served on the party who violates the orders. The court will consider the matter and can order sanctions such as paying attorneys fees and court costs and the court will order the person to either stop what they’re doing that’s in violation or order them to comply with a specific provision.

As stated previously, temporary orders are essential to the family law process. These orders nor the hearing are to be taken lightly. Contact your attorney at Guest & Gray with any questions you may have.